Last Kiss

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(Pictured: the Fabs prepare for winter, and for 1965.)

It would be nice if we had a list of the top hits of 1964 from WOKY in Milwaukee to put a cap on our occasional reviews of the British Invasion year as it was heard on a representative local radio station. But because we don’t always get what we want, we haven’t got one. There is a year-end chart for 1964 from WRIT in Milwaukee, however, so let’s see what we can see on that.

The British Invasion: Eight British acts appear on the WRIT year-end chart, accounting for 15 of the 40 songs. Eight of those songs belong to the Beatles, including three of the top four. (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” is #1.) The other acts: Manfred Mann, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, Dusty Springfield, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, the Zombies, and the Honeycombs, represented by one song each. Add one more if you count South African Danny Williams, who was a big deal in Britain, and who was billed above the Beatles on a 1963 British tour. On its year-end top 100 for 1964, Billboard charted nine Beatles hits, but only six in the top 40. Peter & Gordon, Chad & Jeremy, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Searchers, and the Kinks are on Billboard‘s 1964 chart, but not on WRIT’s.

(Digression: this blog did not hoo-rah enough about Dusty Springfield’s “Wishin’ and Hopin'” last summer. It’s one of those songs I can’t remember not knowing, so I’m guessing it got played on Mom and Dad’s radio station a lot through the middle of the 1960s, same as they must have done with the Dave Clark Five’s “Because.”)

Motown: Only two Motown hits rank among the year’s top 40 on WRIT: “Where Did Our Love Go” by the Supremes and “My Guy” by Mary Wells. The Supremes’ “Baby Love” may have come along a little too late in the year to make the WRIT 1964 list. The year’s other most significant Motown hit, Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street,” which reached #2 nationally in the summer, is also absent from the WRIT year-end survey. At least WRIT had charted the song, where it climbed to #22 during a five-week run in September and October. You may remember that WOKY didn’t chart it at all. It would require more research than I’m able or willing to do to figure out whether people were noticing a “Motown sound” just yet. Perhaps. In addition to all of these, “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” by the Four Tops and the Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do” appear on Billboard‘s year-end list, so there was a lot of Motown product to choose from.

West Coast/East Coast: The Beach Boys charted only one hit on both year-end lists: “I Get Around” at #8 on WRIT and #5 on Billboard. On the face of it, the Four Seasons, with two hits on both year-end charts (“Rag Doll” and “Dawn”) had a better year. But it would be the California guys who would dominate the charts for the next couple of years.

Elvis: The King was into his fallow period, which wouldn’t end until the 60s were almost over. His “Kissin’ Cousins” made the WRIT year-end chart at #22, but was not on Billboard‘s at all. There, the Elvis sound was provided by Terry Stafford, whose “Suspicion” was #22 in Billboard (and #23 at WRIT).

One-Hit Wonders: Although “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers was a monster (#5 for the year on WRIT and #9 in Billboard), it was a throwback, and the group never scored another significant hit. Neither did Gale Garnett (“We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”), Stafford, the Honeycombs, or Danny Williams. The Dixie Cups would never do anything as memorable as “Chapel of Love.”

Anomalies: Billboard ranked Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” at #3 for the year; WRIT had it as #38. Billboard ranked Al Hirt’s “Java” and Barbra Streisand’s “People” in the year’s top 15, but neither made the WRIT year-end top 40. And there’s Lorne Greene’s western novelty “Ringo,” #19 for the year on WRIT but not appearing on Billboard’s top 100. Still wondering: how many kids bought it thinking it had something to do with the Beatles?

Thanks to all 2014 patrons of this Internet feature. Please visit my Tumblr for new content, since posting is going to continue light around here for a while.

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